by Sami Yacoub
part of Our Children and Marriage Series:
Our Children and Marriage 3 Our Children and Marriage 4
Our sons and daughters, in their different life stages, occasionally drift with their imaginations and think about marriage. This begins with the childish joy they experience when attending their first wedding ceremony.
Then their hormones cause them to experience a mixture of emotions and an onset of their sexual urges in their teen years. And as they grow older, they begin to have romantic feelings about the relationship between a man and a woman; the matter which usually contributes positively to the development of their characters, but may fire back at them if they have unrealistic expectations about marriage. What can we do to clear up the confusion and gradually equip them for a better future?
In a conversation with my son, he jokingly stated: “I wish I can go to bed and wake up at my wedding!” My joking but true response was, “Just make sure you choose the young lady who will sit next to you at your wedding before you go to bed, so you’re not shocked in the morning!” Our children think about marriage a lot more than we think! So before the years fly by like a dream and we find them at their wedding ceremony, we must take initiative in equipping them to successfully undergo the marriage adventure. This is an imperative part of our parental responsibility; one that is not in any way less significant than striving to care for their health, and equipping them with the proper education for a successful future career.
Because our kids learn “accumulatively,” attempting to instill in them behavior-defining values cannot be accomplished in a single conversation. Whoever sows the seeds of knowledge in the hearts of children needs to water them with love and encouragement, and plow them with open conversation lest they be snatched away before their roots are firmly grounded. He needs to watch over them closely lest they be choked up by the thorns of conflicting principles and values. Parenting is an agricultural environment that requires a lot of time, effort, and continuous shepherding until it bears fruit.
In our conversations with our kids in regards to their future dreams, we must revert back to the reality that there cannot be an overflow without being filled up. One’s relationship with one’s spouse, and with others in general, cannot overflow with mutual love and respect before one’s heart is filled up with the love of God and one’s life transformed by an obedience to His decrees. Only with this kind of “filling” is the mind illuminated, and the path of life straightened.
A son learns from his father how he should talk to his wife, how he should express his love and care for her, how he should respect her and place her before himself as one who committed to care for her after her father. A daughter learns from her mother that as much as she needs to feel loved from her husband, the necessary ingredient for this type of overflowing love and the warmth is respect; that which men by design need from their wives more than anyone else.
A son needs to know that God created girls to be inherently different than him. Just as a man needs someone to lean on, someone to enjoy fellowship with, someone to share his dreams with, someone to carry life’s burden’s with… women need to feel loved, to feel secure, to enjoy the self-confidence they used to receive in their father’s house. Boys also need to be trained early on to bear responsibility; for the man bears the primary responsibility of creating the best living conditions possible for his family, which usually entails sacrifice and perseverance. The best thing a father can do to prepare his son to bear life’s circumstances when it’s less than perfect, is training him to take initiative. Girls, on the other hand, were chosen by God to give life to every new human being born on earth! And while this responsibility is accompanied with pain and effort and sleepless nights, it is an honor that girls need to recognize early on.
No man will ever be granted to experience the amazing process that girls experience through the process of giving birth to children!
Boys need to learn how to be “gentlemen” from their parents; how to appropriately interact with girls. Girls who learn the basics of respectful social interactions will be a source of pride to their future husbands. What we used to call “etiquette” is now challenged with what’s “cool”… which appears at first sight to be a matter of simplifying things, but in reality destroys that which gives special meaning to an elegant life. He who treats his wife with elegant diplomacy, will be her crowned prince!
One of the most important principles that we must teach our children is that the most valuable gift a husband and wife can give to one another on their wedding day—that which is much more valuable than all the precious diamonds and gold of the world—is their very selves without any previous premarital sexual experience! This is the best gift a bride and groom can ever receive on their wedding day. So let’s teach our sons and daughters how they can preserve their virginity as their priceless gift to their life partner. Virginity is not gender-specific and is much more than merely physical; virginity is a virginity of the heart and mind.
A lot can be discussed with our kids to equip them for marriage. Let’s begin before it’s too late, and let’s keep up the conversations we’ve already begun, and let’s not rest until we see him in his wedding suit, and see her in her white wedding dress, as they stand there in the front before a crowd of relatives and friends to make their commitment before God and people to be a husband and wife to the person whom their hearts and minds chose to live the rest of their lives with. How wonderful is this dream for every father and mother, and how joyous is the responsibility of raising children!
Copyright © 2011 Focus on the Family Middle East. All rights reserved. Originally Published in Watani Paper 26.6.2011